President’s Perspective: Pivoting for the success of each student

By Lori Blake

KASB President

The buzz word for anyone in any type of leadership role right now is pivot. What exactly does that mean though? Merriam-Webster has 3 definitions as follows:  

  1. a pin or shaft on which a mechanical part turns
  2. the action of turning around a point 
  3. a person or thing that is central or important to someone or something else

In farming, there is a pivot in which a giant sprinkler arm is attached to. It is a vital part to growing successful crops in drylands. The pivot provides equal distribution of water to the field based on a rotation from a single point. This meets definition number one and two.  It is actually a piece of equipment mechanically turning around a fixed point. 

In the game of basketball, to pivot is when a player plants a foot to change the direction they are dribbling. It is done to avoid contact with another player or to protect the ball from getting stolen. The action named in definition number two happens from the rest of body moving around the planted foot. 

In COVID response, there have been several pivotal concepts which allowed systemic progress to make decisions in our hometowns. Receiving the Kansas State Department of Education’s Navigating Change document allowed us to understand the rules in a game being developed while we were playing. Then came KSHSAA’s decision to allow local boards to guide return to play protocols instead of a statewide response. Then came the medical gating criteria to provide guidance in making decisions about the safety of our students. These are the central ideas important to us as leaders as we respond to the pandemic and demonstrate definition number three. 

So, I will ask you again in the context of leadership right now, what does it mean to pivot? It means all of the things mentioned above. We must remain firm to our foundation, rooted in the center of what’s best for our students and staff yet move to the corners to nurture and nourish all under our care. We must plant our feet firmly to protect the health and safety of the children and families relying on us. But most of all, we must have a solid concept of what is important to the parents and patrons entrusting their students’ care to us, apply the latest research and guidance for our local situation, and pivot our attention to make decisions in the moment.   

While this certainly applies to the COVID decisions, we are tasked to turn our focus to issues of equity, academic achievement, budget security, and technology needs. All the other roles we play in our communities do not go away. We have just added one very critical job that has demanded our attention. As we settle into the new normal of living with COVID threats, let us not lose our focus on the goals we have set to make academic progress in our quest to make Kansas students the best in the world.   

KASB’s staff has worked hard to pivot themselves into a virtual professional development platform offering trainings on literally any topic impacting Kansas education. It is available by a click of the button. We can connect with colleagues from Hugoton to Atchison and Goodland to Parsons. We are each other’s best teachers and as we reinvent the way education is delivered, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from each other and spread the load. Just like the pivot in cornfields across Kansas, we are soaking the seeds of knowledge in the most resilient crop of Kansans in our lifetime. 



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